Sunday, January 29, 2012

Know Your Enemy

If you read the Bible, you know that Satan (the devil) is real. Some Christians avoid talking about Satan as if he no longer exists or he is no longer active. Others give too much credit to Satan for almost everything bad that happen in the world/in their lives or blame Satan for their wrongdoings (without taking responsibility for their actions....similar to what Eve did). What we should do is: be aware of spiritual warfare and understand the devil's schemes so that we will know how to respond, defend ourselves, and stand firm. To defeat your Enemy, know your Enemy.

"Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14)
"If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." (James 3:14-16)

He is crafty/cunning. He tempts (since Genesis). He lies (he is the Father of lies) and deceives. He knows the Scriptures but he twists God's Word for his own agenda. He takes advantages when we are weak and empty (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually). He makes sins look good and sweet. He likes to make a deal (offering something attractive such as money, fame, power, sensual gratification, etc. if you'll only compromise your commitment/ obedience to God). He stirs up/seduces our fleshly desires/self-centered nature. He wants us to worship him, instead of God. He has temporary power to influence the world (but all things are ultimately under God's control). He dares us to test God or makes us doubt God/His Word. He wants us (the Body of Christ, family, marriage) to be divided, instead of being united/in unity.

Fear not! Our victory is in Jesus! Satan tried to tempt Jesus and failed miserably. We can learn much from Jesus's example in Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13.

Defensive and Counter-Attack Strategies:
- Live your life under the authority of God's Word. Be very familiar with God's truth so that you can detect the lies immediately (even when they come sugarcoated with a misuse of Scripture). Fill yourself up with God's Word, our spiritual food, daily. "Jesus answered, 'It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4: 4) "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)

- Worship, serve, and obey God matter what. With no compromise (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were great examples). Recognize that any deal from Satan is a bad deal. "Jesus said to him, 'Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" (Matthew 4:10)

- Trust God totally and don't demand God to prove Who He is. "Jesus answered him, 'It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (Matthew 4:7) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil." (Proverbs 3:5-7)

- Be self-controlled and alert (watchful). "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith." 1 Peter 5:8-9a

- Put on the full armor of God. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:11-17)

- Pray. Be in constant communion with God. "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." (Ephesians 6:18a) Spend plenty of time with God.

- Live by the Spirit. "We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7) "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other. so that you do not do what you want." (Galatians 5:16-17)

"The devil is willing for a person to profess Christianity as long as he does not practice Christianity." (Unknown)
"He who delays his repentance pawns his soul with the devil." (Unknown)
"God put the Church in the world. Satan seeks to put the world in the Church." (Unknown)
"One of the devil's snares is to occupy us with the past and future so as to take away our peace for the present." (Unknown)

~This post is linked up with Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His Grip, and "Hear It, Use It" @Graceful.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday's Fave Five #61

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-

1. Mission ConneXion Northwest. We go to this free event pretty much every year. This year, it was held at Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, WA. I really enjoyed attending the workshops and getting connected with other mission-minded people and organizations.

Free ebook from John Piper: Bloodlines. The video by John Piper on that page is really good.

3. Lunar New Year Celebration at George Fox University. I had a great time visiting different tables set up by Chinese and Vietnamese students. Music, food, fun, friendship...

4. Bubble Milk Tea. I've just had my first cup of Bubble Milk Tea (Taiwanese drink) at the Lunar New Year Celebration last night. It was tasty. And you get a tapioca ball (or more) each time you drink through a huge straw. 

5. Hope for AIDS Orphans.
Their main mission is to care for the AIDS orphans (14,800, of 2010) in Africa. Please visit the website and consider the 3 ways you can help these orphans.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hope for AIDS Orphans

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

God loves orphans! They are precious in His sight and are made in His own image just like everyone else. My family and I wish we could help all of them. We know we alone can't but the Body of Christ can join hands and make it more plausible.
At times, it may seem overwhelming and we might prefer to shut it out. But we're called to look after orphans. adopting...advocating...doing whatever helps! My 18 year old daughter has been advocating for orphans posted on Reece's Rainbow website on her blog and Facebook.

I'd like to introduce you to Hope for AIDS Orphans (a ministry of Cross International). Their main mission is to care for the AIDS orphans (
14,800, of 2010) in Africa. Can you imagine almost 15 million kids suffering with AIDS and having no parents? I can't wrap my mind around this heart-wrenching fact! These are not just numbers; they're precious lives who desperately need Christ's love and our help. Please watch the video below (if the video doesn't work, please go watch it on the website) and consider the 3 ways you can help these orphans: Express Your Care (sign their Angel of Hope Photo Mosaic), Share Their Story (share the orphan video with your friends), and Give Them Hope (donate to this wonderful cause).
We're very excited to help provide for these orphans through Hope for AIDS Orphans. Would you please join us, too? Any amount helps! Please visit the website for details. Thanks for caring!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Be Still, My Soul

Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the videos.

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10 

"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.'" Isaiah 30:15a

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday's Fave Five #60

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-

1. Snow! We had about 4" of snow on Tuesday. The kids and I had tons of fun sledding. We're so thankful to be living on a hill.

2. Hot cocoa (I use coconut milk) with whipped cream on top. It's quite relaxing to drink hot cocoa in front of our wood stove.

3. Free downloads from Focus on the Family.

4. ‎"Without the renewed mind, we will distort the Scriptures to avoid their radical commands for self-denial, and love, and purity, and supreme satisfaction in Christ alone." (~John Piper)

I shared my thoughts about this quote on my post, "Christ Alone."

5. A Mile in His Shoes DVD. This is a family-friendly movie about a young man diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and how his God-given talent (his amazing throwing ability) helps him and others. Entertaining and inspiring! You can enter to win a copy of this DVD on my other blog by clicking here. Deadline: 01/31

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christ Alone

"Without the renewed mind, we will distort the Scriptures to avoid their radical commands for self-denial, and love, and purity, and supreme satisfaction in Christ alone."
~John Piper
Sad but true, we have seen people, including those who appear to be "active" Christians distort the Scriptures to justify their sins, to serve their own agendas, and even to commit crimes. Satan knows the Scriptures. Most atheists know the Scriptures. Pharisees and false teachers know the Scriptures. What do they all have in common? The lack of the renewed mind (and transformed heart)!

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Without the renewed mind, the world continues to have a hold on you. Self is still on the throne of your heart. Love is still conditional and selfish. Purity is only for nuns and monks. Supreme satisfaction in Christ way. However, the Scriptures are clear about denying self (Mark 8:34-36), sacrificial love (1 John 3:16), purity (1 Timothy 4:12), and the spiritual satisfaction which can only be found in Christ alone (John 4:10, 13-14). This quote from St. Augustine comes to mind: "If you believe what you like in the Gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
When one is in Christ and becomes a new creation, his/her old way of thinking and living has gone. His/her mind is renewed by God's Word and His Holy Spirit. It all starts with surrendering one's life completely to Christ.

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

On a personal note: I received a phone call from my doctor's nurse on Jan. 5th. She said the doctor wanted me to go see him so that he could discuss the ultrasound result with me. No, I'm not pregnant :). I've had intense abdominal pain following my menstrual period for the past few months. Anyway, I didn't know what to expect. I'm thankful that the Lord gave me peace during the waiting days (my doctor appointment was Jan. 9th). I prayed for His will. My life is in His hands and that alone gives me comfort. I, of course, imagined how I would feel/react if I had cancer. By God's grace, I felt ready to face any news. My mind and my heart agree that Christ alone is indeed enough. I hoped and prayed that Christ would always be glorified in me, whether in my sickness or health. When I went to see the doctor, he told me that I have a tumor/fibroid (bigger than a golf ball) in my uterus but it's not cancerous. Praise God! The longer I walk with God in this life journey, the more I find supreme satisfaction in Christ alone!

Christ My All
Christ for sickness, Christ for health,
Christ for poverty, Christ for wealth,
Christ for joy, Christ for sorrow,
Christ today and Christ tomorrow;
Christ my Life, and Christ my Light,
Christ for morning, noon and night,
Christ when all around gives way
Christ my everlasting Stay;
Christ my Strength and Christ my Rest
Christ my Wisdom, Christ wants for me the best
Christ my Well-beloved Friend
Christ my Pleasure without end;
Christ my Savior, Christ my Lord
Christ my Portion, Christ my God,
Christ my Shepherd, I His sheep
Christ Himself my soul to keep;
Christ my Leader, Christ my Peace
Christ hath wrought my soul's release,
Christ my Righteousness divine
Christ for me, for He is mine;
Christ my Advocate and Priest
Christ who never forgets the least;
Christ my Teacher, Christ my Guide,
Christ my Rock, in Christ I hide,
Christ the Ever-living Bread,
Christ His precious blood hath shed;
Christ hath brought me nigh to God,
Christ the everlasting Word
Christ my Master, Christ my Head
Christ who for my sins hath bled;
Christ my Comforter on high,
Christ my Hope, draws ever nigh.

(Source unknown)

Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

This is one of my all-time favorite songs.  In Christ alone, I am who I am today...born again and blessed!

"The great mistake made by most of the Lord's people is in hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone." A.W. Pink

In Christ we have...
a love that can never be fathomed,
a life that can never die,
a peace that can never be understood,
a rest that can never be disturbed,
a joy that can never be diminished,
a hope that can never be disappointed,
a glory that can never be clouded,
a light that can never be darkened,
and a spiritual resource that can never be exhausted.

You're invited to share your thoughts about the quote above (by John Piper) on your blog and then link up your post here. To learn more about "In Other Words"(what it's about, how it works, and how it originated), visit here.
This post is also linked up with Brag on God Friday @Beholding Glory, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates with God at The Wellspring, and "Hear It, Use It" @Graceful.

P.S. I would like to invite you all to join my page, "Christ Alone" on Facebook. Please feel free to post there anything that is Christ-honoring and feel free to invite your friends to check it out. I dedicate that page to Christ and for His glory alone.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day by Day

Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

When Lina (the Swedish writer of this hymn) was 26, her father (a devout minister) fell overboard and drowned right before her eyes. This tragic experience did not make her bitter or angry at God; instead, she chose to live each day with the conscious presence and strength of her Lord and continued to express a childlike faith/a deep & peaceful trust in Him day by day.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How Firm A Foundation

Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

"Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.'" 2 Timothy 2:19
Our confidence for this life and eternity rests on the Word and on the promises of God's Word.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday's Fave Five #59

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-
1. Our old dishwasher stopped working. We're thankful to have found a used Whirlpool dishwasher for $20 on Craigslist. It works great :)!

We all enjoyed To Die For Blueberry Muffins (that's the name of the recipe :)) that Alyssa made. Very yummy! Thanks a bunch to our kind neighbors
for giving us blueberries!

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards in Categories. I love Jonathan you can tell from the quote under my blog title :). Here's another example of his insightful resolutions: "Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die."

4. I really like this quote I read from one of my emails this week: "All our money, time, health and family are simply on loan from God. In a moment's notice, He could take it all, but instead He allows us to manage them. When we dedicate these things to Him and give of our finances and other resources for His Kingdom, we become a conduit of blessings for others. Friend, once we realize that none of what we have is ours, we find freedom from coveting and dissatisfaction. Instead, we find contentment and joy as we give our lives away for our Lord." ~David McGee

5. "Perfect" Happy New Year song :), "The Redeemer" by Sanctus Real
Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

Happy New Year, Everyone! Have a blessed, Christ-centered, grace-filled, & mission-minded year! Let's make each day count for God's glory!

✫✫✫✫¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.✫✫✫✫¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.✫✫✫✫ ◕▄███▄◕──◕▄██▄◕──◕▄███◕──◕▄███▄◕ ◕▀──██◕─◕██──██◕───◕██◕──◕▀──██◕Soli ◕──██◕──◕██──██◕───◕██◕──◕──██◕Deo ◕─██◕───◕██──██◕───◕██◕──◕─██◕Gloria! ◕█████◕──◕▀██▀◕───◕▄██▄◕─◕█████◕ ✿♥❀♥❁•*¨✿❀❁•*¨`*•.✿❀❁•*¨`*•.`✿♥❀♥❁♥

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review: What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

New Growth Press (October 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***


Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He has counseled for over twenty-five years and is the best-selling author of many books, including When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Blame It on the Brain?; Depression: A Stubborn Darkness; Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction; Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest; and When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety. He and his wife Sheri have two daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


In his latest release, author Edward T. Welch offers a way of escape for young adults held captive by the opinions of others. In an increasingly unstable culture, being obsessed with what others think is an escalating struggle among teens and young adults, leading to more serious consequences than ever before. Although everyone—whether they’re sixteen or sixty—works hard to win someone’s approval or ward off someone’s rejection, these issues plague teenagers and young adults with particular intensity. And how teens and young adults answer the big questions of their lives now will affect the direction of their adult lives for better or worse. In his new book, What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?: Answers to the Big Questions of Life (New Growth Press, October 2011), Edward T. Welch extends hope to those weary of hiding behind a mask of performance in order to gain love and acceptance.

Peer pressure, codependency, shame, low self-esteem—these are just some of the words used to identify how young people can be controlled by the perceived opinions of others. Stand out in the right way to the right people, and you’re on top of the world. But experience failure in front of those same people and prepare for a sinking sensation in your stomach and a night of tossing and turning.

Why do you care? Why do we all care? These are questions that can’t be answered without listening to God, the One who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. In What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? Welch takes the big questions of life and shows that freedom from what people think of us comes as we learn who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. Only then will we be able to let go of our masks, stop trying to fill our leaky love cups and begin to live for something bigger than ourselves.

An interactive book, What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? includes questions throughout the text for individual or group study and is especially aimed at teenagers and young adults. A corresponding website rich with controversy and dialogue,, will also offer readers a place to discuss personal needs as well as to find other resources for life’s journey and places to go for help.

“I want to draw people to the path of becoming truly human, where you are controlled by God more than other people and where you love others more than you need them to love you,” says Welch. “The result? Genuine loving relationships and the ability to make a lasting impact on the world around us. It’s a hard process, but it’s wonderful and the results are worth it.”

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935273868
ISBN-13: 978-1935273868

If you have been a teenager before/are a teenager now/have a teenager living with you, you know how huge peer pressure is. It's easy to tell teenagers not to care about what others think of them but that advice would likely go in one ear and out the other. This book was written for readers ages 15-25. However, preteens and even older people can benefit from it. While older people may care somewhat less about what others think of them and have face concern about totally different things, they are still affected by the opinions of others. The cure for the fear of man is the fear of God...more accurately, the love of God. Dr. Welch encourages readers to find their acceptance, affirmation, and affection in Christ, not in people. How we view ourselves, God, and others makes a big difference in how we act and react! Dr. Welch uses the Scriptures, Jesus, and examples of some great men in the Bible to guide readers and give answers to important questions in life. If you desire to freely live for God, aiming to please Him instead of men, check this book out.

"True freedom in your relationships comes when the scales are always a little unbalanced: You want the weight to be more on the "love" side than the "be loved" side." (p. 114)

"When God says that we should do everything for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31), He is saying that our lives are intended to make Him famous, not ourselves...How do you do it? Start by praying. First, that you would know Him and His love. Second, that you would love others in a way that would increase His fame. Then think in terms of small steps of love. Keep in step with what the Spirit is doing." (p. 122)

Great questions at the end of the book: "You are seeking to worship God more than the opinions of others? Do you want to love people even if they don't love you as you would like?" (p. 145) Hopefully, you would answer "yes" :)!


Somebody is Watching

“Lord, please let me be normal.”

Okay, maybe you never actually prayed that, but you do want it. You want to fit in. Who doesn’t? Imagine you are invited to a formal dinner, but you didn’t read the entire invitation and you go in shorts and flip-flops. (Yes, it wasn’t pretty. I was also wearing a Killer Dana T-shirt—it’s the name of a surf shop, but the other dinner guests thought I was going gangsta.)

We all have these stories. We spend a lot of time concerned about fitting in, which means that we spend a lot of time thinking about our hair, our body, our intelligence, and our clothes so we can be part of the larger group. None of us want to be stared at if it means that the people looking at us don’t like what they see. When they look at us that way we want to run and hide.

Oh, and there is another prayer too. “Lord, please don’t let me be normal.” “If I can’t fit in, then I’ll be a vampire,” and she did just that. She figured that both fitting in and standing out were impossible, so she made a choice. Her parents would have preferred a more traditional route such as starting on the basketball team or high SAT scores. They are hoping it is a phase, which it is—there are not many fifty-year-old vampires. But, unless she discovers something else to run her life, she will always be looking for ways to stand out, and she will be depressed.

We want to stand out from the crowd. We want to be seen, which means that we want people to notice us and be impressed with something. We want them to respect us, to like us, and to love us. Not too many people dream of being average. Take a look at your fantasies, and you will probably find a quest to be noticed.

• Have you ever imagined that you scored the winning basket in the NBA finals?
• Do you enjoy superhero movies because you like to imagine what it would be like to have such powers?
• Do you identify with a celebrity because you would like to live her life, at least for a year or two?
• Have you ever fantasized that you were famous or great?
• Or maybe you have already given up on greatness and will settle for a B+.

It’s complicated, isn’t it? If only we could be less controlled by the opinions of others. Maybe a deserted island could be the answer. That would be a pricey way to avoid the judgments of others, but it might work. Apart from that option, you have a creepy sense that people are watching, judging, evaluating, accepting, or rejecting you. Sometimes the eyes belong to no one in particular. Other times you know exactly who or what group you are trying to please. Either way, you are controlled by other people more than you think, and other people, of course, are controlled by how you see them.

The problem is a common one, but we don’t talk about it too often. As a way to get it out into the open, keep trying to locate this in your own life.

• Do you buy clothes because of what other people will think? Have you ever not gone somewhere because you didn’t have the right clothes or didn’t like the way you looked?
• Do you spend a lot of time in front of the mirror?
• Do you avoid people, either because you are angry with them or because you would be embarrassed if they saw you?
• Do you ever get embarrassed to be seen with your parents?
• Have you ever been embarrassed at the thought of other people knowing that you go to church?
• Have you ever been embarrassed to say you believe in God?
• Have you ever been embarrassed to say you believe in Jesus?
• Do you ever exaggerate to make yourself look better?
• Do you feel like a failure sometimes? Do you hate school because from the moment you walk in you feel like a failure?
• Are you afraid to ask questions in class because you might look stupid?
• Do you wish you were thinner, stronger, taller, shorter, smarter, faster, or better looking?
• Have you ever been jealous of someone thinner, stronger, taller, shorter, smarter, faster, or better looking?
• Have you ever wished you could shrivel up and disappear?

Agreed, these questions are too easy. You might hesitate on one or two of them, but basically the answer is yes across the board, and they are that way for everyone. They all point to how we can be too controlled by the opinions of others. Why do you think everyone struggles with it? Where does it come from?

One of the riskiest things in life is to like someone—really like someone. It all starts innocently. You find yourself attracted to another person. Happens all the time. No big deal. But then the attraction grows, and amid the glow of romantic feelings lurks a monster: what if you like the other person more than the other person likes you? What will he or she think about me? you wonder.

You send some friends out on a reconnaissance mission. Their job is to find out if the other person likes you without that person knowing your intentions. If word comes back yes, you can move toward that person safely. If the answer is no, you lick your wounds, thankful for the heads-up that saved you from total embarrassment. In your every- day life, the potential for rejection is enormous. It’s amazing that so many people actually get out of bed in the morning. Sound familiar?

Success can’t protect you. Steven King, the ridiculously prolific and famous horror writer, was told by Miss Hisler, his school principal, “What I don’t understand, Stevie, is why you write junk like this in the first place.” At the time, he was already writing scary stories that other students were willing to pay to read. “I was ashamed,” he says of the incident. “I have spent a good many years since—too many, I think—being ashamed about what I write.”* You too have probably heard words like Miss Hisler’s, and they are still etched inside your soul. Can you think of some?

Look around a little more and you will see it—it goes by many names: a desire for acceptance, the fear of rejection, painful self- consciousness, or peer pressure. You can see it when you or any of your friends take muscle-enhancing steroids or illegal drugs. You see it in anorexia, bulimia, and depression. You find it in people who are sexually active before or outside of marriage.

• What will they think of me?
• What might they think about me?
• How can I be accepted?
• How can I be loved?

The evidence is everywhere. If you can’t relate to any of this, here is a sure way to find it.

• Do you think you’re especially attractive?
• Are you supercompetitive? Do you hate to lose? (And do you usually win?)
• Would you say you are self-confident?

There it is again: a life that is always judged by others. The only difference is that, at least for the moment, the judges score you highly. Yet it is even more complicated. Deep down those who are super self-confident don’t believe the judges’ high scores. They feel like failures— frauds who are barely fooling other people. Do you think beautiful celebrities struggle with feeling judged and unaccepted by others? Count on it.

Some people seem more self-confident or at least less self-conscious than others. It’s hard to know exactly why, but everyone can easily recall times when they withered under the rejection (or possible rejection) of other people.

I know, I know. You were trying to manage this perfectly common experience by ignoring it, and somebody (me) comes along and makes an issue out of it. But my purpose is not to make you miserable. Stick with it, because this particular problem is actually a window into the mysteries of the universe. It takes you directly to three questions that every human being must answer: Who am I? Who is God? and Who are you? And there is no way I would invite you down this road unless the road was very good.

An interview with the author, Ed Welch

Q: What are some questions we can ask ourselves to determine if we are being too controlled by the opinions of others?

The list is a long one here. Am I angry? hopeless? self-protective? afraid? ashamed? depressed? withdrawing? Do I lie to make myself look better? Do I try to attach myself to the celebrity or popular person with the hope of enhancing my own reputation?

Q: Can you explain the term “peer pressure” and what it really means?

I don’t hear this word as much as I once did. It usually means that we are willing to do things we wouldn’t normally do as a way to be accepted by others. There is a good kind of peer pressure, when a youth group really wants to know Jesus better, but that’s not the way it usually happens. We have a lot of the Old Testament biographies in us, and in those cases when a person who belonged to God met a person who loved his or her idols, the follower of God started following the idols and not vice versa. Of course, in the age of the Spirit that can be different.

Q: You say that so much of life comes down to three questions. Can you tell us what they are and how we can find the answers to them?

The questions are Who is God? Who am I? and Who are you? The answers can be a little difficult to discover. Most of us know the correct theological answers to these questions, but there are the correct ones and then there are the ones we really believe. That why the topic of the opinions of other people is so handy. It can surprise us with our REAL answers to those questions.

So what are some of the real answers?
Who is God? Picky, distant, nice but irrelevant.

Who am I? Needy, I must find an identity in myself - who I am and what I do? The problem is that God isn’t very relevant and other people don’t solve the problem because I am a never ending hole that is looking to others so I can feel okay about myself.

Who are you? A threat, a god.

If we use these three basic questions, the question about God tends to be irrelevant, which is at the very heart of the problem. The normal answer is, he loves me [but so what?].

Why doesn’t his love make that much difference? It’s because other people have become our substitute god. The only way that God’s love becomes relevant is for “Why do I care?” to become a confession, as in “Lord, why do I care so much about me and my desires?” That takes an ordinary desire [for approval, love, acceptance, belonging . . . ] that has grown to extraordinary proportions so that it is a ruling or even idolatrous desire, and it brings that desire back to being an ordinary one in which other people’s poor opinions can hurt us, but not control us.

And who are other people? We want to love them just a little more than be loved by them.

Q: You write a lot in your book about worship. Tell us why this is such an important theme and how it applies to the issue of people pleasing.

Worship seems like a once-a-Sunday thing, but Scripture puts life in either/or terms: either we love God or something else, we trust in God or something else, we bow down to God or something else. Bowing down or worshipping is a vivid and accurate way to describe what is always taking place in our hearts. The word control gets at it. What controls us is our god. What controls us is what we adore and worship.

Q: How can recognizing everyone in our lives—acquaintances, loved ones, friends and enemies—as FAMILY change our perspectives and the way we live with and think about others?

We can have wretched families that are more like enemies than families, but most of us are familiar with relationships in which we love people freely. We don’t have to put on airs, we are always wondering what they are thinking about us. Instead, we simply love and enjoy them. When we are interested, we are more interested in them than we are in what they think of us. That recognizable experience moves us toward a way out from this particular human struggle. At the end of the day, love God and love your neighbor is where we will find lots of answers.

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